Hmong Refugees Enroll at Merced High

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, August 23, 2004
The six Hmong students range in age from 14 to 16 and have been placed in the ninth grade. Having recently arrived in Merced from a refugee camp in Thailand, they don’t speak English and have little if any formal education. Before they enter mainstream classes their teachers must assess how much they know and teach them some English. Christine Nakamura-Swenson oversees the students. She says the school is fortunate because it has two teachers who came to the U-S as Hmong refugees in the 1970’s.  NAKMURA-SWENSON :08—So we now have certificated, educated adult Hmong teachers who can speak to them in their own language.  Nakmura-Swenson says the major challenge is preparing the students to meet California’s rigid graduation standards in such a short period of time. NAKMURA-SWENSON :05—That’s asking a lot for somebody who’s just starting school at the age of fourteen or 15.  She’s optimistic the students can quickly absorb the required knowledge because education is important to the Hmong culture. Bob Hensley KXJZ News.